Andy Murray has come down on the strict disciplinarian side as tennis works to co-exist with the COVID-19 virus, with the Scot supporting the use of a heavy hand on any potential quarantine violators at upcoming events.
With the ATP hoping to start competition later this month at the "Cincinnati” Masters scheduled inside a "health bubble” at the New York US Open site, Murray feels keeping players and others safe is an unshakeable priority.
The warning brings echoes of the virus-tainted Adria Tour of Novak Djokovic from June in the Balkans which infected several players including Grigor Dimitrov who said he is still scratching for full health after fighting off the disease.
Even amid the pandemic, some players like German Alexander Zverev and No. 1 Djokovic himself have ignored the occasional social distancing guideline and drawn fire from across the spectrum.
Only a week ago, 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins was kicked out of the isolated World Team Tennis enclave in the US for leaving the compound to travel to a city for what she said were vitamins.
Murray, competing in the Battle of the Brits exhibition in London. is having none of the excuses and is confident the no-fan, no-media, players-in-a-bubble US Open can somehow come off when it begins on August 31.
"The majority of players will (abide by quarantine) but it would be silly to expect nobody would break the rules and the protocols,” the three-time Grand Slam winner said.
"You’ve seen that in the NBA (playing all matches in Florida) and I think it has happened in golf. We (tennis) should be preparing for that (violations) and that is where it is really important,
"The repercussions should be quite serious because you end up putting the whole Tour and event at risk.”
Murray is among the few top players who have guaranteed to play the US Open in the country where nearly 160,000 virus deaths lead the grim world casualty list.
"The USTA is going through a huge effort to try to get this on and make it as safe as possible so if players aren’t abiding by the rules the repercussions should be severe,’ he said of the event where Australians Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios have both announced they won’t make the trip.
But the father of three remains as confused as any normal punter about the state of conflicting advice doled out by national governments – most notably his own UK which has flip-flopped with alarming regularity about international travel and various quarantine scenarios.
"I will have apprehensions about getting on flights for the first time in months,” Murray confessed. "It’s a difficult one because you don’t know when the right time to start travelling would be, who do you listen to?
"Do you trust everything the government is telling you all the time? Probably not.”
Murray added: "You need to make your own decision on that and I trust that the USTA will have come up with a secure bubble for the players. It is just the getting there that I would be a bit concerned with.’
Written by Bill Scott for grandslamtennis.online